Evaluating frailty in Medicaid Home and Community-based Services clients: A feasibility and comparison study between the SHARE-FI and SPPB

Margaret K. Danilovich*, Laura Diaz, Colton Johnson, Erin Holt, Jody D. Ciolino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Frailty assessment most commonly occurs within health care settings by health care providers. Implementing frailty assessment within non-medical settings that provide comprehensive social services for older adults may be an opportunity for population-based frailty screening and care. One such non-medical setting in which older adults receive care is Medicaid Home and Community-based Services (HCBS). Determining the feasibility of frailty screening within this non-medical setting is the first step towards population-based frailty assessment and care. The aims of this study were to (1) determine the feasibility of evaluating frailty using two different approaches (the Survey of Health Among Retired Europeans-Frailty Instrument (SHARE-FI) and Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB)) among HCBS clients, (2) determine the agreement between the methods, and (3) explore specific frailty deficits on these measures to provide detailed knowledge on HCBS client impairments. Methods: This cross-sectional study occurred in HCBS client homes throughout the Chicagoland area. A research assistant with no health care provider training conducted all frailty assessments. We used the freely available SHARE-FI calculator to generate both a categorical and continuous frailty score. We used the SPPB to capture both a categorical score with frailty categories assigned as 0-6 (frail), 7-9 (pre-frail), and 10-12 (non-frail) and continuous score. We evaluated feasibility via domains of acceptability, implementation, adaptation, and practicality. We used Cohen's kappa and Spearman's correlation to determine agreement between frailty tools. Results: We enrolled n = 139 HCBS clients. Frailty assessment was feasibility via both the SHARE-FI and SPPB. The SHARE-FI was more practical given the fewer training needs, shorter administration time, and reduced equipment needs. There was a statically significant fair agreement between SHARE-FI and SPPB categorical scores with stronger agreement between SHARE-FI and SPPB continuous scores (r = - 0.448, p < .005; 95% CI, - 0.571, - 0.305). Among the five frailty criteria on the SHARE-FI, a pattern emerged of the highest frequency of positive responses to each criterion among frail clients followed by pre-frail and then non-frail. Conclusions: Frailty assessment is feasible within HCBS settings conducted by a non-medical provider. Using continuous frailty scores provides stronger agreement between measures compared with categorical scores. Frailty can be feasibly measured in a non-medical setting providing initial evidence for a mechanism for population screening and care for frailty in HCBS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number48
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2019


  • Frailty
  • Fried
  • Medicaid HCBS
  • SPPB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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